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COUNCIL ACCEPTS GRIFFIN'S VETO OF 2 REFORMS LEGISLATION ON ABSENTEE LANDLORDS, CITY HALL VACANCIES IS SHELVED

Two proposed reforms-- one regulating the Buffalo apartment-rental industry and the other to speed the filling of vacant city jobs -- were shelved by the Common Council Tuesday.

The Council backed away from trying to override Mayor Griffin's veto of legislation that would require absentee landlords to buy a license and pay for their apartments to be inspected every two years.

Instead, they accepted his veto of the proposed fees and sent the remainder of the ordinance to committee for more discussion. Council President George K. Arthur said it is unlikely the proposal will survive in its current form.

The bill's author, Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk, criticized his colleagues for abandoning the effort. The bill had been passed, 10-3, two weeks ago, but Council members were lobbied heavily by landlords after the mayor vetoed the bill.

"If this is tough on absentee landlords, they're tough on inner-city residents," Franczyk said. "We won a battle, we lost a battle, but the war is not over. I want to thrash out a bill that will be successful."

The other reform that was rejected would have allowed the Council to fill City Hall vacancies if the mayor failed to act within 30 days. Its sponsor, University Council Member Archie L. Amos Jr., said city services are being crippled because Griffin saves money by refusing to fill openings.

"The Council would not appoint every individual opening," Amos said, "but would be allowed to make decisions when the mayor doesn't move. It's so citizens can get adequate service."

The Amos plan, which would have required approval from voters, was defeated 9-4. North Council Member David P. Rutecki said it violates the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

"In my opinion, it's like having the lunatics run the asylum," he said.

Rutecki suggested the Council consider a bill that would force the Griffin administration to fill vacancies within a certain time period. Other Council members said they didn't want the responsibility of hiring workers.

"I think the function should stay where it is," Council Member at Large Clifford Bell said.

In other matters, the Council approved:

Tops Market's plan to build an 81,500-square-foot store at Grant and Amherst streets. The project is expected to cost $3.5 million.

An amended Buffalo waterfront redevelopment plan. That plan now will be submitted for inclusion in the Horizons Waterfront Commission regional plan. The plan differs from the Horizons plan because it recommends the Outer Harbor be developed as a 90-acre park. Horizons wants to allow some additional commercial development in the Outer Harbor.

Allowing the Salvation Army to purchase the former Travelodge motel at 984 Main St. for use as a day-care center and residence for persons driven from their homes by fire.

Amending the current lease between the city and Erie County Industrial Development Agency on Pilot Field. The lease will be lengthened from its current expiration in 2001 to 2010. That will allow 20-year bonds to be sold in case the stadium is expanded to accommodate major league baseball.

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